By Kevin Martin
The California-based Nyquist added a Kentucky Derby win to his already stellar resume at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Nyquist made it a perfect eight wins from eight career starts and handed his doubters a definitive statement proclaiming himself a potential superstar.
Off at odds of 2-1, Nyquist broke perfectly from the gate and allowed Danzing Candy, breaking from the extreme outside, to pass him and take the lead before the field hit the far turn. Nyquist settled in second behind Danzing Candy who set a fast pace for the first three-quarters of a mile. Gun Runner ran third behind the top pair down the backstretch and made a move around the far turn. He briefly took the lead as they rounded into the stretch. Nyquist passed Gun Runner with about an eighth of a mile to go and never looked back. A hard charging Exaggerator finished second, a length behind the winner, Gun Runner held for third. The final time of 2:01.31 was the fastest Derby since 2003 when Funny Cide completed the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.19.
It is the second win in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Doug O’Neil and jockey Mario Guitierrez who paired to win the 2012 edition with I’ll Have Another. I’ll Have Another went on to win the Preakness but retired a day before the Belmont Stakes due to an injury. Mario Guiterrez has ridden Nyquist in all eight of his victories. Guiterrez was very emotional in the post-race interview and acknowledged some rough times in his career since his last Derby win.
Now the Triple Crown trail heads to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse in two weeks. As has been the trend in recent years, don’t expect more than a few colts from today’s Derby to compete in the Preakness. The “new shooters” waiting in the wings to run against Nyquist in Baltimore are an average lot and should pose no threat to the undefeated colt. It seems very likely that we’ll have another colt running for a Triple Crown in New York on June 11th.
The top three finishers were among the top betting choices. Nyquist paid $6.60, $4.80, and $3.60. Second place finisher Exaggerator paid $5.40 and $4.20. Gun Runner finished third and paid $6.00.